Dr. Eprime Eshag
Did you know that there was an Assyrian economics professor at Oxford University? Dr. Eprime Eshag worked at Oxford from 1962 until his retirement in 1986. His specialties included Keynesian economics and development economics. In addition to publishing articles, he published several books as well including Fiscal and Monetary Policies and Problems in Developing Countries, published by Cambridge University Press in 1984.
Dr. Eshag was born in the city of Urmia, Persia (present-day Iran) in 1918 to parents originally from the village of Qaradjalu. Since he was born toward the end of the World War I-era Assyrian Genocide, his family had to flee to Russia soon after he was born. He lived in Russia until 1926, which enabled him to learn the language. The brilliant Dr. Eshag ultimately learned how to speak Assyrian, English, Persian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish, as well as some Armenian and French.
Dr. Eshag continued his education once he returned to Iran in 1926. However, in 1936, he left to study both accounting and economics at the University of London, after receiving a scholarship to go to England from Bank Melli Iran (the National Bank of Iran). After briefly working in Iran after graduation, he eventually resumed his studies in England and earned a PhD in Economics at Cambridge University in 1952. Following his graduation, he briefly worked for the United Nations, which sent him to both the Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo today) and Ethiopia. However, he eventually became disillusioned with the U.N., so decided to pursue a career in academia instead. That is what led him to a position at Oxford University’s Wadham College.
Although he lived in England for the majority of his life, Dr. Eshag did not forget his Assyrian heritage. His home in Oxford was named “Urmia” after his birthplace. Visitors to his home remember eating Assyrian dishes that he had prepared for them. Additionally, although not directly related to Assyrians, in the 1970s, Dr. Eshag successfully managed to receive funding from the Iranian Princess, Ashraf Pahlavi, to create a Persian Studies Section in the Wadham College Library. Today, this Persian Studies Section is called the Ferdowsi Library and has 4,500 books related to Iran, in addition to 950 Persian manuscripts and 900 early Armenian books. A busy man throughout his life, Dr. Eshag ultimately passed away in 1998.
Written by Esther Lang
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